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Illinois' mediation service is administered and supervised by the Illinois State Board of Education and is provided at no cost to the parties. Mediation can be requested by both parties without filing for due process hearing or can be requested after a due process request has been filed. Mediation is:

  1. Designed as a means of resolving disagreements regarding special education services, placement and related services to children enrolled in Illinois public schools; and
  2. Provided when both parties in a dispute voluntarily agree to participate in the mediation process.

In mediation, neither party is asked to abandon basic beliefs about the student's ability but rather the parties are asked to consider alternatives which could be incorporated into the student's program, to be aware of the concerns and problems expressed by the other party, and to be realistic about both the student's capabilities and the local district's obligations and resources.​

 Rules of Mediation

  1. General Information
    • Mediation cannot be used to deny or delay a due process hearing requested pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
    • At the beginning of the mediation session, the mediator will remind the parties that
      • All discussions that occur during the mediation process must be confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceeding.
      • No party shall record the mediation session by audio or video means.
      • The parties cannot compel the mediator to appear at any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceeding.
    • The parties may terminate the mediation at any time. If consensus is not forthcoming, the mediator may terminate the mediation.
  2. Mediator
    • The mediator is an impartial third party trained in effective mediation techniques and is knowledgeable about laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and related services to students with disabilities.
    • The mediator has no authority to enforce or override any action by either party.
    • The mediator will chair all mediation sessions and assure that they are convened in a timely fashion and held in a location convenient to the parties.
    • The mediator will make reasonable accommodations for the special needs of a party or necessary participant.
  3. Mediation Participants
    • Mediation participants for both parties must include the attendance of persons who have legal authority to act on behalf of and bind the student and parent(s) and local school district, respectively.
    • The number of participants should generally be limited per party. Participants may include attorneys, advocates, interpreters, and other relevant parties who have knowledge of the student and/or of the matter being mediated. If a party anticipates a large number of participants, it should be discussed with the mediator during the initial introductory mediation call placed by the mediator.
  4. Mediation Agreements
    • The only record that will be kept of the mediation session is the result of the mediation session.
    • If the parties resolve a dispute during the mediation session, the parties must sign an agreement that is legally binding and enforceable in any state court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States. [20 USC 1415(e)(2)(F).]
  5. Operation of Stay-Put in Mediations (without an existing due process request)
    • In Illinois, a request for mediation by a parent to address the identification, evaluation, provision of a free appropriate public education to the student, or a change to the student's educational placement invokes the "stay-put" provision. The "stay-put" placement shall be the student's present educational placement and the student must continue, if applicable, in his or her present eligibility status and be provided with the special education and related services in place at the time the dispute arose.
    • In the event the other party declines to participate in mediation, the parent (or student if 18 years of age or older or emancipated) shall have 10 calendar days from the date of the refusal to request a due process hearing in order to continue the "stay-​put" placement.
    • If mediation fails to resolve the dispute between the parties, the parent (or student if 18 years of age or older or emancipated) shall have 10 calendar days after the mediation concludes to file a request for a due process hearing in order to continue to invoke the "stay-put" provision.​

 Request for State-Sponsored Mediation

​​This form has been developed to assist parents and other parties in requesting state-sponsored mediation. The use of this form is recommended, but not required. The completed form should be sent to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

*If the form is not used to request mediation, you may either call or e-mail the mediation coordinator to make a request or to ask for further clarification about the process.​



Parties who would like to request mediation services or would like to learn more about the mediation system may contact Emily Postelmans by e-mail in the Special Education Services Department ​of the Illinois State Board of Education or by phone at 217/782-5589. Parents may use the toll-free number (866)262-6663.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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